A child asked his father a question, to which his father answered, “I don’t know.” Being a curious and persistent child, the child asked his father another question. Again not knowing the answer, the father responded to his son’s question negatively.
Seeing how her husband had failed to answer her son’s questions, the man’s wife told her son, “Stop your silly questions! Don’t bother your dad anymore.”
In response to this, the father said, “Don’t discourage our child! Let him ask questions! Otherwise, how else can he learn?”
As most parents are aware, it is sometimes difficult to answer questions raised by children. However, the positive thing is that children, and the general population, can be taught and trained to answer their own questions. It is with this idea in mind that Dr. Tesfai Haile wrote, Mebaitawi Agebabat Timhirtawi Mirmir, a Tigrigna book on how to conduct research.
According to a brief biography on the book’s back cover, Dr. Tesfai Haile was born in 1955 and studied until Grade 10 in Eritrea. He later went to Ethiopia and joined the Debre-Birhan Teachers’ Institute, where he studied for two years. Between 1974 and 1978 he taught middle school. He then enrolled at the University of Addis Ababa, from which he received a degree in accounting in 1982. Dr. Tesfai Haile then joined the University of Asmara as a graduate assistant, serving between 1982 and 1985. He received his Master’s degree and his PhD from the University of Johannes Kepler in Austria in 1988.
Apart from his teaching and research positions, Dr. Tesfai served as the director of the University of Asmara’s research and development branch. He also served as the University’s research and publications director between 1991 and 1993. Since 1994, he has worked as a consultant and is now the managing director of SMAP, a higher education institute located in Asmara.
Mebaitawi Agebabat Timhirtawi Mirmir has ten sections, all of which deal with different parts of the research process. Chapter 1, serving as the book’s introduction, discusses research as a tool for educational development and deals with such topics as the role of parents in education. It then defines research, presents the goals and importance of research, and touches upon other related issues. Chapter 3 describes the different kinds of research, briefly summarizing the three main kinds used within academia.
The author then discusses a very important aspect of the research process – selecting a research problem or topic. He also covers other important issues, such as data collection techniques and the development of a literature review. Chapter 6 focuses on sampling, explaining how researchers can use procedures to ensure representative samples. In Chapter 7, Dr. Tesfai explains how researchers can analyze and interpret the data they collect. He also discusses the process of drawing conclusions from findings and presenting subsequent recommendations. The last section in the book lists and defines important terms.
As implied by its title, Mebaitawi Agebabat Timhirtawi Mirmir (Basic Approaches to Educational Research) is a step-by-step research guide for novice researchers. Dr. Tesfai walks readers through the often complicated research process, explaining terms, discussing key concepts, and detailing proper techniques and methods.
In Chapter 3, Dr. Tesfai presents an example of a historical research, serving two purposes in the book: presenting an example of this kind of research and offering an example of a research report. Based on research Dr. Tesfai had previously conducted on the state of Eritrean industries from the Italian colonial era up to the demise of Ethiopian rule in 1991, the example features all the components that are found in a research document, including an introductory discussion, details about methods of data collection and analysis, and a section presenting conclusions and recommendations.
The example will be very useful to beginning researchers because it shows how different parts of a research project fit together to create a coherent document. In addition, Dr. Tesfai references an array of relevant literature, showing how literature review is used to support an argument. Throughout the example, Dr. Tesfai shows how well Eritrean industries performed during the different colonial eras and discusses the various factors that brought about their decline. For novice researchers, this section will be helpful in gaining a better understanding of how to analyze data, develop logical conclusions, and present sensible recommendations.
Unfortunately, due to print limitations, Dr. Tesfai fails to adequately cover research problem identification and data collection techniques. He simply presents the document, failing to discuss how he selected his sample industries or how he collected data.
Mebaitawi Agebabat Timhrtawi Mirmir is an excellent book for beginning researchers. It provides them the basics they need to know to able to conduct research.
Many people are intimidated by research because they think it is complicated and very challenging. They believe that conducting research is beyond their capability and assume that it requires substantial amount of money. Partly to overcome such misconceptions, a new type of research, known as action research, was developed. Action research has been used in many different contexts. It seems unlikely that a researcher of Dr. Tesfai’s caliber and experience did not know about action research and its suitability for new researchers. I do not understand why he did not include it among the other kinds of research he discussed in Chapter 3.
In conclusion, Dr. Tesfai should be congratulated for providing beginning researchers with an easy to understand, step-by-step guide to conducting research. The book is also written in a simple, straightforward manner, which will make it accessible to many readers. There is little doubt that those new to research or wishing to strengthen their research skills will find Dr. Tesfai’s book very helpful.